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Israeli annexation of Old City has led to bigoted spitting (and the AJC knows about it)

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Larry Derfner has a great column in the Jerusalem Post about the routine practice of young Orthodox Jews spitting on Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem. These Jews regard Christians as idolators and don’t think they should be there. It’s getting worse in recent years because of Jewish control of the Old City. My questions: Why isn’t this a story in the American papers? Why aren’t more Christians more upset about single governance of a city that Herzl promised would be extraterritorialized so that no one religion would guard the holy sites? The answer to the second question is the first question. Notice that the American Jewish Committee knows what’s going on. I haven’t seen their campaign against it. Derfner:

News stories about young Jewish bigots in the Old City spitting on Christian clergy – who make conspicuous targets in their long dark robes and crucifix symbols around their necks – surface in the media every few years or so. It’s natural, then, to conclude that such incidents are rare, but in fact they are habitual. Anti-Christian Orthodox Jews, overwhelmingly boys and young men, have been spitting with regularity on priests and nuns in the Old City for about 20 years, and the problem is only getting worse.

"My impression is that Christian clergymen are being spat at in the Old City virtually every day. This has been constantly increasing over the last decade," said Daniel Rossing. An observant, kippa-wearing Jew, Rossing heads the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and was liaison to Israel’s Christian communities for the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the ’70s and ’80s.

For Christian clergy in the Old City, being spat at by Jewish fanatics "is a part of life," said the American Jewish Committee’s Rabbi David Rosen, Israel’s most prominent Jewish interfaith activist…

There was a time when priests and nuns in the capital went virtually unmolested. In the first 20 years or so after Israel conquered the Old City in the 1967 Six Day War, spitting incidents did occur, but only once in a very long while. Old City police would lock the offender up for the night, which proved an effective deterrent, said Hintlian. "Whatever problem we had, we could call [mayor] Teddy Kollek’s office, we could call people in the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, we could call Israeli ambassadors. In those days, Christians inJerusalem were ‘overprivileged,’" he said.

That era of good feelings came about as a result of two circumstances, continued Hintlian, the leading chronicler of Jerusalem’s Armenian history. For one, he says, Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular were much more liberal in those days, and secondly, Israeli authorities were out to convince the Christian world that they could be trusted with their newly acquired stewardship over the Old City’s holy places.

"Now Israel doesn’t need the world’s approval anymore for its sovereignty over Jerusalem, so our role is finished," said Hintlian. "Now we don’t have anyone in authority to turn to."…

Rosen, [Daniel] Rossing and [George] Hintlian say the most frustrating thing is that there’s no longer anyone in authority who’s ready to try to solve this problem, and the reason is that theChristian community in Israel is too small and powerless to rate high-level attention anymore.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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